Ahmedabad, January 19
NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat has said the shutdown of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 did not have any significant impact on the economy, as people there did nothing other than watching “dirty films” online.
He also said internet services were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir to prevent certain elements from “misusing” information that could affect law and order situation there.
Saraswat was speaking to reporters in Gandhinagar on Saturday after attending the convocation of the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology.
“What difference does it make if there’s no internet there? What do you watch on internet there? What e-tailing is happening there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing there,” he said.
“If there is no internet in Kashmir, it does not have any significant effect on the economy,” he added.
Saraswat said the reason for suspending internet services in Jammu and Kashmir was to prevent certain elements from misusing information.
“If Article 370 had to be removed, and if Kashmir had to be taken forward, we knew there were elements there which will misuse this kind of information in a manner that will affect the law and order situation,” he said.
On recent protests in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Saraswat said the institution has become a “political battleground” with half of the teachers being “hardcore Leftists”.
He called for the issues there to be resolved “democratically”.
Saraswat also said that protests like those against the Citizenship Amendment Act and in JNU affect the economy.
“The losses are affecting the economy. We are giving people money, but there is no output from them. Government teachers are getting their dues despite the strike. What is the output...all this affects the economy,” he said.
Quoted out of context: Saraswat
New Delhi: After a controversy erupted over his remarks that people in Kashmir only use Internet for "watching dirty films", NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat on Sunday said he was quoted "out of context" and apologised if it has hurt anyone's feelings.
Talking to PTI, the former director general of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said he had not spoken to the media about "dirty pictures" and asserted that he was misquoted.
Saraswat made the remarks in Gujarat's Gandhinagar on Saturday after attending the convocation of the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology.
He said he addressed the students on various issues related to technology and 5G communications.
"During the conversation somebody talked about Kashmir and I said 'yes internet is required and I respect the feeling of all Kashmiris in this regard that they should be provided internet and agree with the fact that they should have the freedom'.
"But sometimes governments have to take action for maintaining law and order and security to shut down the internet for sometime. Then the conversation was over and we were talking about many other things. And from many other things, they picked up all this nonsense. I have been misquoted, I have been quoted wrongly and out of context," he told PTI.
"I have also said that because of being misquoted by the media, if it has hurt the feelings of people of Kashmir or anybody for that matter, I apologise for that," he added.
The comments defending the suspension of Internet drew strong reaction from trade bodies in Jammu and Kashmir which demanded his immediate removal for "maligning" the people of the Union Territory, while CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury also hit out at Saraswat, saying he needs to read the Indian Constitution.
Condemning Saraswat's remarks made in Gandhinagar, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) president Sheikh Ashiq said it is unbecoming of a person entrusted with serious responsibilities to make such statements that "malign the population of Kashmir". — PTI
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